The museum began with a Royal Collection from the King's of France. Since that time they have continued to acquire thousands of paintings. King Francis the 1st has been given credit for truly founding the royal collection. The works began with Cimabue and ran to the 19th century.
In 1516 Francis I invited Leonardo da Vinci, the most famous artist of that time, to France. Several of his paintings were placed in the museum before he died in 1519. Da Vinci's works became one of the most precious treasures of the museum.
Other masterpieces were slowly gathered, such as the Italian Rennaissance painters: Andrea Del soto, Raphael, Titian, and Sebastinano del Piombo.
Under the reign of Louis XV paintings by Boucha, Lancret, Joseph Vernet,Chardin,de Nattier and also a few portrait painters then entered the Royal Collection.
Under the reign of Louis XVI, seized paintings from homes of collectors and confiscations from churches were also added,within fifteen years the Museum Louvre became the most extraordinary museum of all time.
Additional works of art were added from the victories over Belgium,Holland, Germany and Italy. But in 1815, commissioners sent to Paris by all the above countries took back more than five thousand works of art , leaving the Louvre with only about one hundred paintings.
Several altar pieces, ones by Trecento and Quattracento were purposefully left behind by the commissioners. Some exchanging was also done, for example Veronese's "Marriage at Cana" was exchanged for a painting by Le Brun.
Construction of new galleries and collections were expanded with purchases from the schools in 1848. The Marchese Campana was purchased in 1862, which contained over one hundred Italian panels.
The Dr. La Caza collection was bequeathed to the museum in 1869. This greatly increased the holdings of the museum.
In addition to the French masters of the 18th century, Flemish and Dutch works were then added.
Many purchases were made during the period from the beginning of the Third republic to the First World war including works by El Greco and Rogier Vander Weyden.
Additional french masters works were added in the 19th century.
There were several transfers of paintings from Luxemnborg, including purchases and donations of entire collections.A bequest from Caillebotte was received in 1894. Many great collections were accepted such as , the Thomas Thiery collection in 1902, The Moreau-Nilaton collection in 1906 , the Chauchard collection in 1909 and the Camando collection in 1911. These works helped tremendously in the expansion of the museum.
Impressionist paintings were then being recognized by collectors and began to become part of the treasured collections of the museum.
After 1918, other French museums were diminishing, but the Louvre began purchasing such pictures as Durers" Self Portrait",Courbets "Studio" and Delacroix's "Sardanapolis", thereby greatly increasing the museums holdings.
The museum then reorganized and acquired paintings by Georges de La Tour , other 17th century painters and also acquired some rather unknown works from the School of Fontainebleau.
Large donations received after the second world war, included those of Carlos de Beistegans Impressionist works.
The Louvre continued to expand and added several sections of French paintings and began showing works by several foreign masters.
Some of the most favored old masters works which are held by the Museum Louvre are as follows:
"Whistler's Mother", painted by James Abbott McNeil in 1871.
"La Bohemienne", painted by Frans Hals around 1627-1630.
"Bathsheba", painted by Rembrandt Haremenz Van Rijn in 1654.
"The Lacemaker", by Jan Vermeer around 1664-1665.
"The Four Evangelists", by Jacob Jordaens around 1625.
"The Raising of Lazarus" by Geertgen tot Sint Jans, in the late 15th century.
" The Cripples", by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, also early 15th century.
"Flemish Kermesse", by Peter Paul Reubens around 1635-1636.
"Portrait of Charles I" also 1635-1636.
"The Money Changer and his Wife",by Quentin Van Dyck, in the early 15th century.
"Portrait of Charles VIII", by Jean Fouquet, done before 1445.
"Pieta of Villeneuve-Les Avignon",by Enguerrand Quarton in mid 14th century.
"Le Tricheur" , by Georges de La Tour, painted in early 16th century.
" The Peasant Family", by Antoine Le Nainor his brother Louis Le Nain, also ealy 16th century.
"Autumn" by Nicholas Poussin, done around 1664.
"Cleopatra Disembarking at Tarsus", by Claude Lorraine, mid 16th century
"David Crowned by Saul", also by Claude Lorraine.
" Chancellor Sequier",by Charles Le Brun,around1655-1657.
" Portrait of Mona Lisa" by Leonardo Da Vinci about 1503-1506.
" Pilgrimage to the Island of Cythera", by antoine Watteau in 1717.
" La Pourvoyeuse" or " Back from the Market", by Jean Baptiste-Simeon Chardin around 1739.
"Breakfast", by Francois Boucher, in 1739.
"Bathers" by Jean-honore Fragonard, in 1761.
"The Sabin Women", by Jacques- Louis David, in 1799.
"The Raft of the Medusa",by Theodore Gericault ,in the early 18th century.
"July 28, Liberty Leading the People",by Eugene Delacroix, early to mid 18th century.
"The Turkish Bath", by Jean-Auguste- Dominique Ingres in 1862.
"The Painters Studio", by Gustave Courbet, in 1854.
"Interior of Sens Cathedral", by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot in 1878.
"The Gleaners" by Jean Francois Millet, in the18th century.
"Self Portrait" by Albrecht Durer, in the late 15th century.
"Portrait of Erasmus" by Hans Holbein the Younger, in the early 5th century.
" Madonna and Child Enthroned with Angels", by Cimabue, around 1270.
"Coronation of the Virgin"by Fra Angelico, painted before 1435.
"Battle of San Romano" by Paolo Uccello, done around 1455.
"Crucifixion", by andrea Mantesa, done around 1457-1459.
"Portrait of a Man", by Antonello da Messina, around 1475-1476
"Venus and the Three Graces Offering Gifts to a Young Girl", by Sandro Botticelli, painted around 1480-1483.
"Portrait of Baldassare Castiglone",by Raphael, around 1514-1515.
"Concert Champetre" by Titian, in 1510.
"Entombment of Christ", by Titian around 1523-1525.
"Sleeping Venus" by Correggio in 1525-1526.
"The Marriage at Cana",by Paolo Veronese in 1563.
"Fishing" by Annibale Caracci around 1587-1588.
"The Death of the Virgin"by Michaelabgelo Caravaggio in 1605.
"The Doge Returning from the Lido on the Bucintoro"(part of a series of 12) by Francesco Guardi, painted around 1773.
"Funeral of Saint Bonaventure" by Francisco de Zurbaran around 1629.
"The Young Beggar", by Bartolome Esteban Murillo around 1650.
"Portrait of Condesa Del Carpio Marquesa De La Solana, by Francisco de Goya around 1792-1795.
This completes the background of the Museum Louvre, Paris and its holdings.
Part two will give information on the museum as it is today.